URI to hold ‘mock’ emergency response clinic in spring

KINGSTON, R.I. — December 3, 2003 — The University of Rhode Island has been selected by the Rhode Island Department of Health to establish a model drug dispensing clinic as part of a statewide push to prepare for a bioterrorism attack. The first mock Bioterrorism Response Clinic will take place on Friday, April 2, 2004 at Keaney Gym.

Every municipality in the state is required to develop such a drug dispensing response plan. URI’s role is twofold—to test a site and then using that knowledge, teach municipal volunteers how to establish/run their sites. The simulation will be based on the intentional release of a disease agent.

The drill is intended to simulate an actual medical response to what would likely be waves of increasing numbers of people needing prophylactic treatment. The goal is to process up to 1,000 individuals through the mock clinic within a six-hour period. Health officials say this would be among the largest simulations in New England.

The success of the simulation will depend on the participation and cooperation of many members of the University community, both as volunteer medical service providers to staff the clinic and as volunteer patients needing to be treated at the clinic. The medical volunteers are being recruited largely from nursing and pharmacy programs, since students, faculty and staff in these professional programs have some background in evaluating patients and dispensing medicine. A pharmacy class and several nursing classes will be involved in setting up and participating in the clinic.

Student groups and members of the community at large will be asked to volunteer as patients to receive simulated drugs at the clinic.

The Department of Health is helping to support this exercise and other URI efforts using bioterrorism and emergency preparedness grant money from the federal government.

Thomas Mather, URI professor of entomology and director of the Center for Vector Borne Disease, is heading a URI team of faculty and staff charged with planning and operating the clinic. Officials planning the simulated clinic stress that there is no immediate threat, but that the federal Department of Homeland Security and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are requiring communities to prepare for such events.

Additional announcements with further details about the clinic and about how individuals and groups can get involved will be forthcoming as the team finalizes the plan.
For further information, contact Nancy Doyle-Moss, clinical nursing instructor at 874-5350 or nancyann@uri.edu, or Dave Lavallee, URI News Bureau, 874-2116.